Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller . . .

. . . might be a title that turns off more potential audience members than it entices. At least given the rave reviews the play garnered, that's one explanation for the significant number of empty seats in the modest-sized theater when I saw it on Saturday night.

If you're among those rendered queasy by the very idea the title proposed, don't worry (spoiler alert): the cannibal feast is not actually staged. But what is staged, and beautifully, is among the most gripping, moving, and memorable 65 minutes of theater I've seen.

The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, adapted by Jeff Cohen from the story of the same name by Christopher Stokes, is about far more than the possible fate of Michael Rockefeller, who in 1961 at the age of 23 disappeared in the Asmat of New Guinea. It's a vivid portrait of one of the last of the world's ancient peoples, on the verge of having their values and culture extinguished by Western contact. Though leavened by many moments of hilarity, it's an elegy for what's been lost.

For what survives, visit the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To immerse yourself in a vanished world and free yourself, at least momentarily, from the desire to accumulate millions of the papers that are our medium of exchange, catch The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller.

It's at the ArcLight Theater, 152 W. 71 St. For tickets: or 212-868-4444.

You've got one more week.

No comments: